Frequently Asked Questions About Wall Coverings
Q. How do I know how much wallcovering is needed for my project?
A. The first thing you need are accurate measurements of the walls that are to be covered. Use a yardstick or steel tape measure. Measure in feet rounding off to the next highest half foot or foot. Draw a room diagram showing doors, windows and ceiling height. If there are built-in bookcases or a fireplace, for example, show those as well. Next, calculate the square footage of every wall that will be covered. Subtract areas that will not be covered. (Standard doors are about 3 X 7 feet or 21 square feet; standard windows about 3 x 5 feet or 15 square feet.)
Divide this figure by 25, the number of square feet in a single metric roll of wallcovering. This gives you the approximate number of rolls needed. Note that the pattern repeat, rooms of unusual size or shape, greater than normal wastage during hanging, or other special circumstances can affect the rollage needs. Your local independent retailer can calculate your exact wallcovering needs based on the pattern you select and your room diagram.
Q. Why are there so many different wallcoverings available? I'm almost overwhelmed by what seems like thousands of choices.
A. It's true that there are many wallcovering choices. In fact, when you include both color and pattern, there are well over 100,000 choices available at any one time! But that's to your benefit. You'll be able to find exactly the right pattern and color you need to fulfill your decorating objective. And, at a price to fit any budget. To make your selection task easier, many independent retailers have their wallcovering sample books and in-stock wallcovering organized and categorized by room, style, type of wallcovering and price. In addition, many independent retailers have well-trained, certified consultants who can guide you quickly to exactly the right wallcovering for your project.
Q. Can I hang my own wallcoverings, or should I hire a professional paperhanger?
A. It depends. Most residential wallcoverings are now hung by consumers such as you. By following manufacturers' instructions, the advice of the independent retailer where you purchase your wallcoverings and the step-by-step directions, you can hang your own wallcoverings and do a professional-looking job. Wallcoverings are not difficult to hang! However, there are certain types of wallcoverings and architectural situations (elaborate stairwells, for example) where a professional definitely should be hired. Your local independent retailer can advise you as to when and if you should hire a professional and can usually give you a list of local paperhangers.
Q. Can I hang wallcoverings over old paneling?
A. Yes! In fact, you can even hang over wall tile, brick, cinder block and textured walls. While there are a number of methods, the simplest is to use what is called lining paper. This is a special type of blank wallcovering stock that is hung over the paneling (or tile, etc.) to provide a smooth surface over which your regular wallcovering is then hung. Your local independent retailer usually carries lining paper and can provide complete instructions. You'll be amazed at how much brighter a paneled room will look when the old, dark paneling is covered with wallcoverings.
Q. Are there special wallcoverings for different rooms and/or situations?
A. While very versatile, some types of wallcoverings are better than others in certain rooms or situations. For example, there are wallcoverings that feature such qualities as stain resistance and scrubbability. These would be excellent choices for kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. Other wallcoverings resist abrasions and are washable, making them a good choice for children's rooms. Others feature color-fastness as a characteristic. These would be naturals for rooms that receive a great deal of direct sunlight. These features and others are listed on the wallcovering's label and/or in the sample books at your retailer. Wallcoverings produced for commercial use also are classified by physical and performance characteristics. Your local independent retailer can advise you as to the type wallcovering you should use for your particular situation.
Q. Are there any special preparations I should make to my walls before hanging wallcoverings?
A. Yes. In fact, proper surface preparation will make it easier for you to hang your wallcoverings and plays a very important role in assuring satisfactory results. Basic preparation steps include patching any cracks and/or nail holes, washing any greasy or dirty areas, and using a primer/sealer made to be used under wallcoverings. There are other steps that should be taken with new plaster walls, new drywall and other surfaces including paneling and tile walls. Your local independent retailer can advise you as to exactly what preparation is needed for your walls and provide the specific products and tools necessary.
Q. Why is there such a wide range of prices per roll for various wallcoverings? I've seen wallcoverings priced at $10 a roll or even less and others that cost as much as $50!
A. Actually, you can find wallcoverings for even more. However, the average price for a single roll of wallcoverings is only about $16. That, by the way, works out to only about 65 cents per square foot. The price is affected by such factors as the type of wallcovering (i.e. solid vinyl, fabric-back vinyl), how elaborate the design, and the exclusivity of the design. As with any decorative product, collections from famous name designers cost more. No matter what style or pattern you desire for your project, you can always find a wallcovering to fit your budget.
Q. What exactly is a pattern match? I keep seeing terms such as straight-across match, drop match and even random match.
A. On all wallcovering, except some textures and murals, there is what is called a pattern repeat. This is the vertical distance between one point on a pattern design to the identical point vertically. This pattern repeat is an integral part of the design. A random match is one in which the pattern matches no matter how adjoining strips are positioned. Stripes are a good example. A straight-across match is one in which the design elements match on adjoining strips. A drop match is one in which there is a vertical drop between the matching design elements. With straight-across matches, every hung strip is the same as the ceiling line. With drop matches, the number of strips hung before a strip is repeated is dependent on the type of drop match. For example, in a 1/2 drop match the third strip hung would be a repeat of the first strip; in a 1/3 drop match, the fourth strip hung would be a repeat of the first strip; in a 1/4 drop match, the fifth strip hung would be a repeat of the first strip, and so on. Here are illustrations of three types of matches.
Q. My little boy tore a place in our new wallcovering. Can we repair it without hanging a whole new strip?
A. Yes. In fact, it's fairly easy, and if done properly, the repair is practically invisible. As illustrated, place a larger piece of pasted wallcovering over the tear so that it makes an exact match with the wallcovering on the wall. Use a razor knife to double-cut through both layers around the tear. Remove both layers, clean the exposed wall area and repaste the new outer piece into the area. After 15 minutes lightly seam roll the fitted edge. Note that an irregular, wavy cut following the design in the wallcovering will make your cut less noticeable.
Q. I want to hang my own wallcoverings. What tools and equipment do I need?
A. You probably already have many of the tools needed. Numbers 1 through 16 are those that are always needed for hanging wallcoverings. The remaining ones will be needed for specific types of wallcoverings and/or for special situations. Here's a tip. Good quality tools and sundries always pay. If you need any of the following, buy the best you can afford!
- Yardstick for measuring
- Scissors for cutting and trimming
- Razor knife or breakaway type knife for trimming
- Seam roller for pressing and setting seams
Caution: Avoid pressing too hard. This can cause all of the paste to be squeezed out which can lead to loose seams.
- Wide wall scraper or broad knife
- Two-inch putty knife for patching walls
- String, colored chalk and weight for making plumb lines
- Carpenter's level or bubble stick (the recommended way to make plumb lines)
- Smoothing brush
- Sponge for rinsing down strips
- Sandpaper and/or sandpaper block
- Drop cloth or brown kraft paper for protecting floors
Note: Do not use newspapers as the ink may smear.
- Screwdriver for removing switch plates and fixtures
- Raised working surface for pasting and cutting strips (special tables are available at many wallcovering retailers)
- Water tray for wetting prepasted wallcoverings
- Paste brush, paint roller or pad applicator for pasting unpasted wallcovering
- Miscellaneous sundries for patching and preparing the walls including primer/sealers
- Adhesives for unpasted wallcoverings (see manufacturer instructions and/or ask your independent wallcovering retailers for the proper type for your project.)
- Vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive for overlapping vinyl wallcoverings and special surfaces.
Ask your local retailers for answers to other questions or information.